I saw her! I really did. Who, you ask? Why, Annie Oakley, the girl who can out shoot the men (I’d love to see her out-shoot Chad. That would serve him right). Mitch told me a little about this young lady one summer when we were traveling through the high country (Trouble with Treasure). I was so tired of everybody (mostly Mother and Justin) hinting that it was about time to grow up, and I griped to Mitch that I could never do what I wanted anymore.
Like always, Mitch saw my side of it and told me about Annie Oakley (who really didn’t get the name “Oakley” until much later, by the way. Ah! Literary license!). He might have gotten her name wrong, but he sure got me excited about a girl who did what she was good at, and she didn’t even begin shooting until she was 15 years old. Before then (from age 8), she lived at a very strange place that took care of the mentally ill, the sick, and the elderly. Her family was very poor. But when she came home, she started shooting small game to sell. And she sold a bunch.
She never missed. Unlike me, who can’t hit anything. Chad has tried and tried to teach me to shoot his pistol. I miss, he laughs, then I argue and yell. Sometimes I get so mad I start crying. He thinks everybody needs to know how to shoot (I learned later that Miss “Oakley” felt the same way. She thought women should feel just as comfortable handling firearms as handling babies). Maybe I should try a rifle, like Annie. And since I’m not 15 yet, there is still time to learn to shoot as well as she can. Maybe.
But I stray from my story. Once Annie started shooting, there was no stopping her. She even went up against a well-known crack shot named Frank Butler, who bet a whole $500 that he could out shoot any local yokel. Annie (my new heroine) shot 25 out of 25. Ol’ show-off Mr. Butler missed his last shot and lost the bet. Hurray for the local yokel, Annie! Come to find out, they got married back in 1876 (when I was 8). I reckon they had plenty in common.
I saw Annie’s performance when our family went to San Francisco. She was on tour, and boy can she ever shoot! My mouth hung open so wide that Mitch had to clap a hand over it to keep the flies out. Annie shot a cigarette out of Mr. Butler’s mouth. She shot coins and balls, and she even shot backwards while looking into a mirror. (I can’t even shoot forward!) I poked Chad and said, “I’d like to see you try that.” He glared at me and said, “I might.” Another thing that impressed me was that she wasn’t any taller than me. “Just a little mite,” some folks say, if you think five feet tall is little.
All in all, it was worth every penny our family spent. We stayed at the Palace Hotel (rich and fancy) and saw other sights while we were in the City. It was Melinda’s 18th birthday, and she had all kinds of things planned for us. Annie happened to be there at the same time. (And she was the best part of the trip, if you ask me. Even Melinda agreed seeing her shooting show was a treat.)
It cost me most of my extra chores money, but I just had to purchase this fancy photograph that someone colored up real fancy. I plan to set Annie’s picture up on my dresser so I can remember what she said about aiming high (for success) and how she never gives up.
Take a look at this actual video footage of Annie Oakley shooting in 1894! It’s awesome! Annie Oakley Shooting >>
Here is Annie’s signature.
Author’s Note: Mrs. M could not find documentation that Annie Oakley actually ever performed in San Francisco, but the things she did at the shows are accurate. Also, since Andi is still living during Annie’s time, it’s up to Mrs. M to tell you the rest of the story. She and Frank Butler went on to join Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, where they went all over the country performing. Annie performed in Europe too, for queens and kaisers. She and Frank had no children, and they died within days of each other in November of 1926. Annie was sixty-six years old.